BELLINGHAM — All season long, Meadowdale girls soccer coach Mike Bartley had been concerned about his team and its inability to score goals.
That lack of offensive firepower came to haunt the Mavericks last week as their season ended with a heartbreaking 3-2 shootout loss to Shorecrest at the Northwest District 3A tournament at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.
These Western Conference 4A South Division foes were closely matched. They had played to a scoreless tie during the regular season and both lost opening round games in the tournament by close scores.
Bartley had a hunch about this game.
“This is going to come down to PKs (penalty kicks),” he predicted before kickoff.
After a scoreless first half that seemed to lack intensity on both sides of the ball, the pressure of the situation dictated a shift in the tempo. In the 50th minute, the Scots were awarded a free kick 25 yards out from the center of the Meadowdale goal.
Mickey Pelland took the free kick and softly sent it along the turf to the right corner and a waiting Laura Burkhart. Setting up in the crease was Whitney Michiels, who took a pass from Burkhart and buried the ball behind Meadowdale goalkeeper Allie Wirtala.
The best chance the Mavericks had to tie the game came in the 66th minute, when Brooke Simmons lined up for a penalty kick. But Susanna Barnes stymied her effort, coming out of the net to make a stop five yards from the goal line. The Shorecrest keeper was coming off a nearly two-week layoff due to a concussion sustained late in the regular season.
That 1-0 lead for the Scots seemed insurmountable for the Mavericks as the clock ticked off the closing minutes.
With less than a minute remaining, Shorecrest coach Gary Harris and the referee tangled in a lengthy cross-field verbal match that abruptly ended when the official tagged Harris with what turned out to be a very expensive red card. Harris was ejected from the game.
When play resumed, the Mavericks put a set play into motion with Kate Nelson sending a 30-yard pass into a crowd in front of the Scots net. The ball found the head of Kelsey Nagel, who headed it past Barnes, tying the score as the final whistle sounded.
Ten minutes of overtime failed to resolve the outcome of the game, setting up the shootout.
The first three shooters for each team in the best-of-five tie-breaker combined for a miss and two goals for their respective squads. But the next two Mavericks found the post and the crossbar, while Shorecrest managed another goal, clinching the victory and ending Meadowdale’s season.